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May 27, 2024

Kaduna Community Accuses Soldiers of Seizing 518 Cows

The Fulani Waziri family of Rafin Sarki village in Fatika District, Giwa Local Government Area, Kaduna State, has accused soldiers of unlawfully killing their members and seizing 518 cows, 177 sheep, and rams on March 9.

In a petition shared on Wednesday in Abuja, the family urged army authorities to instruct the detachment of soldiers in Fatika to return their animals and refrain from selling their farmlands.

They also demanded a thorough investigation into the soldiers’ actions in the community, alleging unprovoked killing of 12 family members.

The family identified those reportedly killed by the soldiers as Nura Abdussalam, Adamu Abdulkarim, Yusuf Haruna, Buhari Haruna, Kabiru Haruna, Hussaini Haruna, Zinatu Bello, Haruna Idris, Waziri, Rayyanu Shuaibu, Alhaji Abdulkarim, and Salisu Abdulkarim.

Their grievances were outlined in a petition to the National Security Adviser dated April 12, 2024, signed by their lawyer, Mr. Bello Ibrahim.

The petition was also sent to the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Director DSS, Governor of Kaduna State, and the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army, where the alleged incidents took place.

In the petition, the family requested the return of their animals, compensation, and protection from further harassment, intimidation, and human rights violations.

They recounted that their troubles started on Dec. 3, 2022, when suspected military personnel arrived at the village and unjustifiably killed 10 family members.

The family added that the alleged attack was led by Sgt Usman, known locally as Bagobiri due to his tribal marks, who was deployed to the village from Basawa barracks, Zaria.

“Sir, our clients are not in the position to know the precise official names of the soldiers involved in these acts of wickedness and disrespect for law and order.

“All they could remember was the manner Sergeant Usman organised the attacks and seizure of their cattle and other animals without justification,’’ the family lawyer stated in the petition.

Bello clarified that on January 14, Sgt Usman, along with some vigilante members, confiscated 168 cows owned by the family and held them at their camp in Fatika. He mentioned that the animals were later released on January 15 after the family lodged a complaint with the superior officer at Basawa Barrack.

Bello further explained that a similar incident occurred on March 9, when Sgt Usman coordinated with the vigilante group to seize and transport 518 cows, 177 sheep, and rams belonging to the family.

“In the presence and open eyes of our clients, Usman Bagobiri sold some of the cows to many people at their camp and later brought trailers and loaded the rest of the cows, sheep and rams and led them away to an unknown destination,’’ he alleged in the petition.

Bello said that the same Sergeant has been extremely hostile to the family members, especially Abdussalam Haruna, who forwarded the initial complaint against the soldiers to the Basawa barrack.

“Usman Bagobiri has been intimidating and harassing our clients. He expressed openly that since their cows are no more and their lands are being taken away, our clients must vacate their village and move to any other place or if they remain on their land whatever will befall them, will so befall them,’’ he added in the petition.

The lawyer further stated in the petition that 300 of the cows were pregnant and likely to deliver at any moment, which may increase the herd to more than 850.

He added that 100 sheep were also pregnant at the time and likely to give birth and raise their number to at least 130.

This, according to him, will likely raise the number of sheep and rams from 177 to about 300.

He described the present state of the family as pathetic because of the “untold hardship and sufferings on our clients.

“Being that to our clients, the animals are the main source of their livelihood.

“Our clients are law-abiding citizens and have never been involved in banditry, kidnapping or cattle rustling, that is why their settlement exists openly and peacefully among the larger Hausa communities around Fatika.

Bello, however, said that despite the intimidation and harassment, his client had resolved to resist being forced into criminality and would pursue legal options to recover their livestock and farmlands.

“So far, after so much struggle, 40 cows were returned by the Kaduna state livestock officer, who said the Army gave them only 45 cows and that five of the cows had allegedly died, with none of their dead bodies shown to my client by anybody.”

He added that the 40 cows were returned on April 3.

“We solicit the assistance of the authority to urgently intervene and bring back the cows, sheep and rams of our clients immediately, and to ensure that the family lands of our clients are returned to them.

“We also seek the payment of N500,000,000 as damages, compensation for suffering, hardship, fear and intimidation inflicted upon our client by soldiers.

“Sir, should it be that our client’s cows, sheep and rams are extinguished and lost due to unjustified seizure of the animals by the soldiers of the Nigerian army, our clients are entitled to the payment of compensation in the sum of N2 billion along with the release of their farmlands.

“With the instructions of our clients, we request for the payment of N250,000, 000 each as compensation for the killing of twelve (12) persons listed above, given the total of N3bn.”

When contacted on the matter, the Director, Army Public Relations, Maj.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu said full investigations had commenced into the matter.

“Reference your inquiry. Information available to me is that investigation into the allegation is currently ongoing.

“The personnel involved have been taken into custody and investigation has commenced and we should await the outcome,” he stated.

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